By Saili Gosula of Synergy Home Care
Not moving? Thinking of “Aging in Place”? Good for you. This article is for you. Having a one-on-one caregiver coming into the home enables a person to “Age in Place” so that you can be safe and have companionship. But be certain that you are using a licensed Home Care Agency!
What to expect from a caregiver
A caregiver’s tasks are varied and customized to the needs of each individual person. They can provide companionship, light housekeeping, personal care, meal preparation, medication reminders and transportation. Care can be for short 3-4 hour shifts, or round-the-clock, or anything in between. It can be temporary (right after a fall, hospital stay, accident, surgery), or ongoing. Home Care can be more cost effective than higher levels of care, as you pay only for the hours you use.
The good news for those in California is that Home Care has just become licensed. This means that there are certain requirements an agency must meet to be licensed by the state of California. This is a lot better than before, when you did not know what the agency’s practices might be – they each choose how they wanted to operate, and there was no audit for fair, safe, or ethical practices (no background checks, not hiring caregivers as employees, no worker’s comp insurance, etc.)
Use only a licensed Home Care Agency
Effective July 1st, you should only be using agencies registered through the state of California. Each of these agencies will have what is called and HCO (Home Care Organization) Number. This can be searched on this website:
There are many quasi-home care agencies out there. For example, ones that don’t hire their caregivers as employees. They used to be able to call themselves Home Care agencies when they were actually registries of caregivers and the client was the actual employer. There was no oversight before. They should not be able to call themselves Home Care agencies anymore because they will not be licensed, BUT enforcement has not really begun, and thus you must protect yourself by searching the website above and asking for an HCO Number.
Be certain the caregivers are licensed!
Also, starting July 1st, you should not have a caregiver working for you if she/he has not been registered AND cleared through the State of California. Every agency must only use registered caregivers for their clients. This clearance is searchable on this state website (https://secure.dss.ca.gov/ccld/hcsregistry/registrysearch.aspx ), after providing first name, last name, and Home Care Aide number. The HCSB (Home Care Services Bureau) requires a background check that is stricter than anything Home Care Organizations were allowed to use before, which means we are finally keeping our seniors safer!
Becoming licensed has not been an easy process. Home Care Agencies have worked very hard to comply with all the requirements. But this is very good news! You can expect more consistency (and fewer agencies) now. This should give you confidence that any Home Care agency registered with the State of California is fulfilling the basic set of requirements. The state has made it easy for you to verify that you are working with a bona fide Home Care Organization who has fulfilled the state’s requirements. We are thrilled that the state has taken this step, and worked to create oversight and enforcement to ensure safer choices for our seniors.
For help with searching the State Database or advice on finding caregivers, please contact me at…